In the end, this effort doesn’t do anything new for the paranormal-romance genre and falls short of the gripping and...

THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING

Opposite worlds collide in this supernatural tale of forbidden love and good-versus-evil when 17-year-old Zoe, who is still coping with the death of her father, crosses paths with X, a pale boy of the supernatural variety.

Zoe and X’s love affair is doomed from the start, because X is a prisoner from the Lowlands—a supernatural, hellish landscape—where he acts as a bounty hunter, collecting the souls of bad people on behalf of a mysterious higher power. With her witty dialogue and banter, Zoe is positioned as a funny and likable character, but X doesn’t have enough substance to set him apart from other brooding young men within the genre. In an apparent effort to charm teen readers, the book is brimming with pop-culture and social media references, and the frequent use of slang phrases (“dawg”; “true dat”) dates the novel and reads like a mockery of the teen experience. Zoe is described as having pale skin. Regent, a black Lowlands lord with “royal, African bearing” and “shining, ebony skin,” is the novel’s main character of color and fulfills the unfortunate “magical negro” trope. Meanwhile, Zoe’s best friend, Val—a lesbian—reads as a flat character.

In the end, this effort doesn’t do anything new for the paranormal-romance genre and falls short of the gripping and heart-stopping supernatural tale it promises. (Paranormal romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61963-753-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come.

THE WICKED KING

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 2

A heady blend of courtly double-crossing, Faerie lore, and toxic attraction swirls together in the sequel to The Cruel Prince (2018).

Five months after engineering a coup, human teen Jude is starting to feel the strain of secretly controlling King Cardan and running his Faerie kingdom. Jude’s self-loathing and anger at the traumatic events of her childhood (her Faerie “dad” killed her parents, and Faerie is not a particularly easy place even for the best-adjusted human) drive her ambition, which is tempered by her desire to make the world she loves and hates a little fairer. Much of the story revolves around plotting (the Queen of the Undersea wants the throne; Jude’s Faerie father wants power; Jude’s twin, Taryn, wants her Faerie betrothed by her side), but the underlying tension—sexual and political—between Jude and Cardan also takes some unexpected twists. Black’s writing is both contemporary and classic; her world is, at this point, intensely well-realized, so that some plot twists seem almost inevitable. Faerie is a strange place where immortal, multihued, multiformed denizens can’t lie but can twist everything; Jude—who can lie—is an outlier, and her first-person, present-tense narration reveals more than she would choose. With curly dark brown hair, Jude and Taryn are never identified by race in human terms.

A rare second volume that surpasses the first, with, happily, more intrigue and passion still to come. (map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-31035-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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